Thursday, August 02, 2018

via Bill Keezer

With thanks to Bill Keezer for emailing the link to this:

At this point, the mainstream media are no better than Pravda, although I suppose we could take comfort in the fact that the media aren't the lackeys of the White House. At least... not until the next Democrat becomes president.

Then there's this howler about relentlessly negative coverage of Obama. Bitch, please. If the media didn't like certain aspects of Obama's presidency, they probably focused on (1) continued drone strikes, (2) the continued existence of Guantanamo Bay's detention centers, and (3) the US's continued presence in Afghanistan—all extensions of GW Bush's policies. There was relatively little press concern, during Obama's watch, for problems like (1) deteriorating race relations, (2) a sagging private-sector economy even as the public sector was improving, (3) a horrifically puerile foreign policy that garnered the US no further respect than it had received under GW Bush, (4) cavalier circumventions of the US Constitution via a slew of executive orders, and (5) a terrible health-care plan that doubled premiums on many citizens while helping relatively few people—all while giving the lie to "if you like your doctor/policy, you can keep your doctor/policy."

Also thanks to Bill:

My own thoughts on the whole gender thing are evolving. Here's a scattered impression, sort of a core sample of ideas indicating where my thinking is right now:

1. Sex is biological; gender is a mental/social construction. This is axiomatic.
2. Corollary: gender fluidity is entirely plausible because gender—not sex, mind you—is limited only by the human imagination.
3. I don't give a shit about the "restroom" issue. As far as I'm concerned, restrooms could all be made omnisexual, and it wouldn't affect me one bit.
4. Chromosomally, and with vanishingly few exceptions, there are only two sexes: XX and XY. Exceptions might include "supermales" with the XYY chromosome combination, but even that is clearly male. Not acknowledging this is tantamount to denying reality.
5. If a transgender (i.e., surgically transsexual) female wants to be considered female and to be addressed as female (including the use of "she" as the preferred pronoun), I'm fine with that. I do it already, even with "drag queens" who remain genitally male but who dress in feminine ways. I lived for years on a diet of science-fiction novels, many of which have served, in a weird sense, as preparation for the advent of polymorphic sexuality. I remain pretty standardly hetero (or, if we insist on the silly feminist designation, "cis-hetero"), but my attitude toward sexuality is essentially libertarian: as long as you aren't in my face with your agenda and/or forcing me to go against my own orientation and preferences, I really don't give a damn what you do and how you act.
6. About pronouns like "ze" and "zyr" and the odd usage of "they": I'm a linguistic conservative, so I find the introduction of such pronouns annoying, but in the end, I don't think this is a fight that linguistic conservatives can win. I'm resigned to eventually knuckling under, but I'll be frank: if I can avoid using such pronouns, I will, at least for now. At the same time, I agree with the stance Jordan Peterson took some years back—the stance that made him (in)famous among academics and others: forcing people to use gender-fluid pronouns, on pain of some penalty, is wrong and a violation of free speech. If you have the right to label yourself, I have an equal right to label you, even if my label for you is "xenomorph." If your argument is that my use of a conventional "he" somehow oppresses you, then my argument is that your use of "ze" oppresses me. Rhetorical parity. Live with it.
7. As flexible as my attitude toward gender is, my attitude toward biological sex is inflexible. Recent examples from the news reinforce my stance: a man can "transgender" into some form of womanhood, but the moment she competes in a competition that was originally for cis-women only, her innate maleness will out itself. Transgender women, running in races as trans-women among cis-women, are now breaking records originally held by cis-women. Why? Because these trans-women are still chromosomally male. Sorry, but that's a reality that can't be denied. I once blogged about the transgender MMA fighter, Fallon Fox, who was so brutal to her cis-female opponent, Tamikka Brents, that Brents claimed she "had never felt so overpowered ever in [her] life." The sporting world is going to have to resolve this issue somehow, or we're going to see more biological men in the ring or on the mat brutalizing women who can't possibly compete with them. Is this a desirable future? I'll say this: such a future is avoidable if people wake up and realize biological sex matters.
8. Regarding whether gender dysphoria (the feeling one is in a body of the wrong sex) is a form of insanity: I think not. Gender-dysphoric folks have a bone-deep conviction that they weren't born in the right bodies; who can blame them for that? These people are also perfectly rational about every other aspect of their existence, so if this dysphoria is a form of mental illness, it's an extremely narrowly defined form of mental illness, indeed—so narrow as not to exist. No, I think these people are perfectly sane and have a good grasp of what they want to do. The question of whether surgical alteration will utterly change their quality of life is, I think, a separate (though not entirely unrelated) matter. Granted, suicide rates among transgender people are depressingly high—close to 50%. But how much of that is due to supposed mental illness, and how much of that comes from social pressure and other factors? Surgically altering oneself is as much a psychological gamble as it is a physical one. For myself, I respect the courage of someone who is able to follow through with his or her convictions to the point of attempting to alter his or her body. But this leads to a sticky issue:
9. Are you a bigot if you, as a cis-hetero male, refuse to have sex with a trans female? I answer with a resounding no: your preferences are your preferences and can't be judged. I'm hetero; does this make me a bigot if I cringe at the notion of kissing a gay man on the lips? Not at all. I don't see the issue of sexual orientation or preference as a moral one; it's more on the level of one's preference for onions on pizza (as I've argued several times on this blog over the years). If you can respect my disgust at onions on pizza, I can respect your love of onions on pizza, and neither of us has to condemn the other to hell for a mere hard-wired preference.*

*By the way, I'd extend that to the question of race, too, and if you're honest with yourself, you'll agree. The rule that "birds of a feather flock together" is very much in evidence in terms of human mate selection. In general, blacks date blacks, whites date whites, Koreans date Koreans, etc. Of course there are myriad exceptions to this general rule (I'm the result of such an exception), but it's still a general rule. If you're a guy who loves Latin chicks but never dates black women, this doesn't perforce make you racist against blacks. You have a preference, is all, and evidence of an inclination is by no means evidence of an active disinclination. In fact, many elements within the black community would prefer that non-blacks leave black women alone—including a significant bloc of black women themselves! A corollary of "birds of a feather" is "Keep it in the community!" I don't think this sentiment is racist at all. Preference doesn't immediately imply prejudice, and you'd be stupid to think it does.

1 comment:

John Mac said...

Well said, Kevin. Your thinking pretty much completely mirrors mine on this sex/gender issue.

I guess this is as good a time as any for me to come out. I'm a lesbian. Trapped in a man's body.